World's Carbon Emissions Drop During Recession

The International Energy Agency expects the world’s carbon emissions to drop 3% in 2009, thanks to the recession.

Until this year, emissions worldwide have been increasing about 3% annually. If emissions drop this year, it would the first time in 40 years that they’ve gone down, rather than up. 

The 3% drop means that emissions in 2020 would be 5% lower than the IEA forecast a year ago, even without further action on reducing emissions. 

In the U.S., CO2 emissions are expected to fall 5.9% in 2009, according to the DOE’s Energy Information Administration.

The government agency, charged with tracking energy usage, estimates emissions from coal consumption will fall by just over 10% becaue of reduced electricity demand. The Short-Term Energy Outlook report also forecasts lower natural gas and petroleum emissions. 

The decline in coal, natural gas, and electricity consumption in the industrial sector, a result of the weak economy, accounts for 140 million metric tons, or about 40%, of the total projected reduction in CO2 emissions. Industrial activity, including manufacturing, is disproportionately impacted by the economic downturn, with the index of manufacturing activity forecast to decline by 11.5% in 2009, considerably more than the 2.5% forecast decline in real gross domestic product (GDP), EIA said.

Reduced consumption of jet fuel and diesel for long-haul trucks is responsible for an additional 30% of the annual decline, the agency said. Economic recovery in 2010 is expected to increase emissions about 1.1%, according to current forecasts.

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